Technology has changed the way we communicate at sea quite considerably. In grade 12 you will be introduced to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) but during grade 11 we will be discussing distress and safety communications outside of the new automated system.

The old system relied heavily on telegraphy using the morse code to send messages from ship to shore, shore to ship and from ship to ship. This was very slow and time consuming and it required that operators master a special skill. For the average operator it took approximately six months to learn how to send and receive radio morse (telegraphy) at eighteen words per minute. Obviously their skill grew with experience but it was still slow and cumbersome. Fortunately the advances in technology made this redundant and communication via the morse code is restricted to visual signalling (ie flashing light). Even this is seldom used these days. Outside the GMDSS, distress and safety communications are conducted world-wide via voice and narrow band direct printing (Telex).